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ACE Spectrum


Ace Spectrum is about you — the ACE Learning Centers.
It’s a quick sharing of ideas, inspiration, opinions and best practices among our continuing education organizations.

Please join the conversation.

Alpha Learning Center Families Visit California Polytechnic State University to See What the Future Holds

Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Karen Martinez, Alpha/ACE Learning Center Manager

Lunch break at Cal Poly.

On September 23, both parents and their kids went on a field trip to California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly. Thank you to our Alpha Learning Center funder Association for Continuing Education (ACE) for making our first annual family university field trip happen!

¡Gracias a nuestra Financiador del el Centro de Padres Association for Continuing Education (ACE) por hacer nuestra primera paseo de familia anual a una universidad posible!


Group shot on Cal Poly campus.

Check out the Video of parents at Cal Poly.



Welcome to KALW’s Audio Academy Class of 2019

Posted by on Sep 11, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, ACE School Report, Continuing Education | 0 comments

Audio Academy dance party at KALW. (All photos in this blog by Ben Trefny.)

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio

It’s a new academic year, and that means KALW‘s Audio Academy has a new class! We just got started with a two-day orientation last week, during which we made introductions and shared stories about ourselves, discussed our station’s mission along with the history of the Academy and support we’ve received from ACE, and gave primers on the fundamentals of audio journalism that we’ll be building upon for the next nine months. With all that, we still found time to squeeze in an outdoor dance party with more than 20 participants!

We wanted to give you a chance to meet the incoming fellows. Let’s do it, with some very oversimplified three-point biographies:

JoAnn DeLuna
– Was based for a long time in New York City and moved out to the Bay Area for this opportunity
– Worked in journalism for nine years, primarily as a business writer
– Would love to work for Latino USA


Lance Gardner
– Grew up in the Bay Area, lived in Berkeley and Oakland, and moved to Palo Alto
– Is an in-demand actor leading performances for groups like Berkeley Rep
– Picked up the audio bug, taught himself how to engineer, and produced a series of stories about street buskers for Crosscurrents

Pria Mahadevan
– Received a Fulbright scholarship to study in Brazil and speaks four languages
– Lived in Santa Barbara, but moved to the Bay Area to be part of the Audio Academy
– Is interested in Brazilian stories, is learning ASL, and is interested in doing stories about the deaf community

Maggie McKay
– Is originally from the Midwest
– Taught herself how to make radio and records cab driver stories
– Is interested in finding ways to talk about big issues in San Francisco with kids


Kevin McLean
– Is a scientist who has done postdoc research at Davis and Stanford, studying mammals in trees
– Received Fulbright and National Geographic scholarships
– Has volunteered at a public radio station in Connecticut



Porfirio Rangel
– Graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in broadcast communications

– Worked a lot in radio in college, and has done some work with KGO

– Makes a show called The Peep Show, in which he talks about pop culture

Lisa Wang
– Worked for Google
– Studied with one of KALW’s former editors
– Has taken three different podcasting classes in the last year


Alyia Yates
– Attended and graduated from Mills College, because she wanted to take radio from former KALW news director Holly Kernan there
– Cobbled together a major combining theater and media
– Listens to Crosscurrents every day

Welcome to the Audio Academy class of 2019! We can’t wait to hear the stories you make.

The Audio Academy being silly. Why not?



From Video Game Addiction to Asian Americans in Films, KALW Summer School Student’s Stories Hit Home Runs

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018 in ACE Learning Center, Continuing Education | 0 comments

By Ben Trefny, News Director, KALW Public Radio; Holly J. McDede and Marisol Medina Cadena, KALW Summer Internship Instructors

The high school interns and their instructors hard at work in The Palace.

School’s back in session, and we celebrated at KALW by running student stories. This summer, as we’ve written about in previous posts, we hosted six teenagers from the San Francisco Unified School District in our newsroom and taught them the ins and outs of audio journalism.

How did it work? I’ll let our instructors, Holly J. McDede and Marisol Medina Cadena, tell the story:

Holly: The first day of the high school summer internship, Marisol and I gathered six high school students inside the storage-space-turned-classroom, which we call “the Palace.” Everything seemed to impress them: the existence of real-life audio engineers, the recording studios, the equipment, the journalists! I told them that by the end of the six-week internship, they would produce their own radio stories, too. One of the interns looked frightened, and said, “That sounds like a threat.”

Marisol: At first we wanted to just get a sense of what the students were interested in. So, we exposed them to different types of audio stories to see what themes, structure, tone, and sound design style they responded most to. Every morning we started our class by listening to two or three radio stories or a podcast. We then would go around in a circle to talk about what stood out to them from the piece and would it be a technique they could try in their own piece. Once they pitched their stories, our assignments were much more tailored to each student. For example, my students who chose to do pieces about their families, I had them do radio dairies. From those reflections, we would come up with the questions they were going to ask their families.

Holly: The students all got on really well together and had a lot to say. Every morning we talked about the news, and they excitedly chirped their opinions on all the issues of the day, everything from the weirdness of high school teachers to the Trump Administration to gun violence to class communists to the murder of Nia Wilson.

Marisol: What impressed me about our students was that they were really engaged the whole time. Even though some were shy, if you called on them they had really great things to say. During our sit-in with KALW’s live daily show “Your Call,” they all got quiet when the producer asked them to submit questions about homelessness. Our students were really nervous but in the end they asked really thoughtful questions — like what are individual ways to help combat the larger issue of homelessness.

Holly: What surprised me most was the ideas they came up with for radio stories: a castle owned by a cop; Asian American representation in film; game addiction; a mother’s immigrant experience; displacement to the suburbs; and teenage vaping.

Marisol: The last two weeks zoomed by, and there was never a moment our students weren’t busy working away on their stories. Unfortunately, an interview for one of my students fell through — multiple times — so we really had to come up with a backup plan. It was a good teaching moment, learning to adapt your story when your main interview subjects drop out. And the students had a great can-do attitude about it all.

Holly: By the last day, I was exhausted, and nearly falling down with pride. I wish I could hang up all their radio stories on my refrigerator. My favorite thing: a card from one of the high schoolers, saying, “Because of this internship, I feel like radio might be a career I will pursue.”

Marisol: I was really proud to hear their stories finally air! From start to finish they put so much effort into reporting and it shows. Their stories are a testament to their curiosity, compassion, and courage to try something brand new and excel at it! Plus, it’s not everyday we get to listen to youth perspectives on the air. They have given us listeners a wonderful gift for our ears.

What a great learning experience. And what a great summer! Ready to listen to some stories? Check these out, produced by our summer high school class of 2018!


Ashlee Nguyen

 Where are Asian Americans like me on the big screen? – Ashlee Nguyen






Jiahao Chen

Is it us, or is it the video games? – Jiahao Chen






Andy Xie

For teens, vaping is a sleek, discreet way to smoke – Andy Xie






Zoe Burleson

The history of a hidden castle in Hunters Point – Zoe Burleson






Christopher Olvera

Discovering my mother’s homeland – Christopher Olvera






Julian Rodriguez

The struggle to relocate after a lifetime in San Francisco – Julian Rodriguez